Cross-docking is used in the distribution phase, allowing you to reduce the costs of transport and storage, which are relatively high in the total logistics costs. The use of this technique contributes to a significant, overall optimization of the supply chain.

It is an innovative method of complementary transhipment, i.e. the accumulation of goods from several places and from different customers in one point, or the collection of shipments from many locations and delivery to one destination.

In cross-docking, several important activities related to the manipulation of the transported goods are distinguished:

»Unloading from the means of transport.
»Segregation or picking.
»Loading on another means of transport.

It should be noted that all the above-mentioned treatments are carried out in the warehouse at the reception and release docks, between the means of external transport. The main concept of this method is to eliminate the storage of goods in the warehouse or their storage, but for a really very short period between the phases of unloading and loading, which has a significant impact on the costs related to the handling and storage of goods. As can be seen, cross-docking fulfills its functions in the distribution area, where the finished product changes its location in the individual links of its delivery to the recipient.

Enterprises that want to stand out from the competition on the market must efficiently and effectively respond to the needs and requirements of their group of customers, who at the present time attach great importance to the time of execution of their orders. The result of such action is the use of methods that allow to shorten the time of movement of goods in the supply chain. When using the cross-docking system, it is necessary to properly synchronize the processes of receiving and issuing goods, because the storage process is omitted, and the necessary manipulations are performed in the zones near the ramp. This allows you to effectively implement customer service strategies. There are three levels of cross-docking:

1. Full pallets – pallets with a homogeneous product are directed directly to the recipient.
2. Products complemented by the supplier – the completion and shipment of goods is carried out by the manufacturer directly to the recipients, knowing the needs of each customer.
3. Picking at the reloading point – delivery of full pallets of homogeneous product to the Distribution Center, where they are picked and completed for a specific recipient in accordance with his order.

The main advantages of this system are certainly the reduction of costs associated with the storage of finished products, skipping the storage phase. What’s more, the delivery of goods to destinations is significantly accelerated, reducing the number of delays and errors. Considering the warehouse itself, it may have less storage space, which reduces the maintenance costs of the structure. Unfortunately, there are also downsides to everything. Enterprises deciding to use the cross-docking method must have a modern IT system that will help in organizing all activities. Bad timing of receipts and releases can cause numerous errors and downtime.